This year’s edition of Bouchercon, the huge annual gathering of crime novelists and fans, ended Sunday, and already I’m feeling nostalgic.
For a writer like me, who spends months working in isolation, the four-day conference was a rare chance to be surrounded by 1,400 like-minded people, all of whom either do what I do or read the kind of books that I write. It offered a chance to renew old acquaintances, make new friends, celebrate best-sellers, commiserate about poor sales, praise or complain about agents and editors, share ideas about writing, meet and thank readers, and recharge the batteries.
My favorite things about this year’s conference in Raleigh:
— The wisest—and funniest—remark of the event was uttered by Tim O’Mara, a Manhattan math and special ed teacher who writes the fine Raymond Donne mysteries. Asked what TV crime shows he admires, Tim said that Breaking Bad was the best ever but that everyone missed the moral of the series: “We don’t pay school teachers enough.” The second funniest also belonged to Tim. During a discussion about whether mayhem in books encourages people to be more violent, Tim said he doubted it. After all, the math books he hands out to kids don’t have much affect.
— The best personal moment for me was when best-selling crime novelist Steve Hamilton, a two-time Edgar Award winner, singled out my work during his panel appearance, calling me “a really great writer.” Gee, thanks, Steve. And thanks also to Deadly Pleasures Magazine for making my third Liam Mulligan novel, Providence Rag, one of five nominees for its Barry Award. Congratulations to Greg Iles for walking off with the prize.
— I also must thank the members of the panel I moderated on “lone wolf and loose cannon” protagonists. Andrew Grant, Jerry Ackerman, Mick Herron, and Ben McPherson provided a lively and thoughtful discussion.
— As always, the best part of the event was the bar conversations that allowed me to catch up with old friends including Alafair Burke, Reed Farrel Coleman, Lee Goldberg, Craig Faustus Buck, Jamie Mason, S.J. Rozan, James W. Hall (in photo at left), Cat Warren, James O. Born, Parnell Hall, Laurie King, Chris Knopf, Con Lehane, Larry Light, Otto Penzler, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and many more. Together, you and the rest of those who attended once again created an incredibly welcoming and supportive community. I was honored to be part of it.
— Writer friends who didn’t make it this year, including Bill Loehfelm, Ace Atkins, David Freed, and my good buddy Tim Hallinan, were very much missed. Hope to see you all next fall when we reconvene—this time in New Orleans.